The New Zealand Warriors, desperate to keep their National Rugby League playoff hopes alive, are wary of facing what, on paper, will be severely weakened opposition in Auckland on Sunday.

The highflying Bulldogs will be without key personnel, including halfback Brett Kimmorley, hooker Michael Ennis and centre Josh Morris, all on State of Origin with New South Wales.

They are also missing Kiwi forward Greg Eastwood and top tryscorer Bryson Goodwin, both suspended for two weeks after the Bulldogs' 19-12 defeat to Manly on Monday.

As well, Queensland forward Ben Hannant is sidelined with injury, as is centre Jamal Idris.

The replacements that coach Kevin Moore has called up include former Kiwi winger Matt Utai at centre, halfback Daniel Holdsworth at halfback and hooker Michael Sullivan.

The Warriors have one player, skipper and Queensland prop Steve Price, away in Origin camp.

Price's stand-in as captain, lock Micheal Luck, shrugged off suggestions that this weekend was a good time to meet the Bulldogs.

"Matt Utai is an international, Michael Sullivan has played plenty of footy here and in England, and Daniel Holdsworth is a great player if you give him time," he said.

"If anyone goes into the game thinking it's going to be easy, he's kidding himself. Guys are coming in with nothing to lose and those teams are always the most dangerous to play against."

The Warriors are languishing in 12th spot after losing both matches of their trip to Queensland.

They have won just two of their past nine fixtures, a run in which they have failed to score more than 17 points in any game.

Luck said attack was again an area that the Warriors had concentrated on this week, especially close to the opposition line.

"We've been rolling out of trouble pretty well," he said.

"We're just maybe getting a bit frantic when we're at their line and that's something we've focussed on."

There had also been plenty of defensive work in training, with the aim of trying to slow the opposition down better than the Warriors managed in their 28-14 loss to Brisbane last Friday.

With five points separating the Auckland-based club from the top eight and no byes left, Luck agreed it was nearing the point of no-return in terms of playoff ambitions.

"We've got nine to go and we've got to win as many of those as we can," he said.

"I suppose it's come to the time where we have to start going now rather than further down the track."

Luck said the Warriors' fast finishes over the past two regular seasons, when they came from way back to clinch a playoff spot, did provide some confidence.

But it wasn't something the club could rely on to get them to the finals for the third year in a row, because circumstances changed.

"We can look back and take lessons from those years, and how we did do that then," he said.

"But you can't rely on doing this year what you've done before. It's not going to happen like that.

"We have to make things happen and you do that by working hard and putting yourself in every contest."

- NZPA